Buford Suffers Worse Loss Since 1973
In what was a rematch of last years state AAAAA title game, coach John Ford was hoping his Wolves would reverse the score. The Buford Wolves however were outscored 28-0 in the second half and fell 45-7 in the state semifinals. A loss that severe has not been seen by the Wolves since 1973 when the Wolves lost 44-0 to Duluth.
Rome opened the scoring when junior quarterback Knox Kadum found Xavier Roberts-Donaldson on an 8-yard strike with 8:47 left in the first period. Emmanuel Gonzales made the point after touchdown for a 7-0 Rome lead. That was the only score of the period. Buford held Rome early in the second period but Gonzales connected on a 32-yard field goal with 10:24 left in the half.
Rome got the ball right back but K.J. Johnson recovered a fumble on the 35-yard line to give Buford field position. Buford drove down to the 5-yard line where freshman quarterback Aaron McLaughlin called his own number and went in for the touchdown. Hayden Olsen connected on the PAT to close within three points as Buford trailed 10-7 with 8:17 left in the half.
Rome promptly put together a drive and Roberts-Donaldson hauled in a 19-yard pass from Kadum with 4:11 left til intermission. Gonzales made the extra point and Rome led 17-7 heading into the half.
But it was all Rome Wolves in the second half. Kadum was looking to pass but took off on a run up the middle and outran the defense for a 50-yard jaunt with 8:24 left in the third period. Gonzales hit the PAT to give the home team a 24-7 lead. Jarrious Griffin then virtually put the game away with a 15-yard run and another PAT gave the Rome Wolves a 31-7 lead with 2:15 left in the third period.
In the fourth period, Kadum again showed off his legs with a 32-yard run again with 8:24 left and Nick Burge finished off the scoring with a 23-yard run.
“They just outplayed us in every aspect of the game,” said Ford. Kadum finished with 11 carries for 147. Buford’s leading rusher Anthony Grant only had 2 carries for 6 yards while Christian Turner had 8 carries for 35 yards. Rome ran 58 times for 416 yards. Buford finished with 102 yards of total offense.
Buford finished the season with a 12-2 record and their 10-game winning streak in the state semifinals came to an end. Rome will play Warner Robins in the state finals at Mercedes Benz Stadium.
By Mark Blumen